SPARTA, NJ — The Sparta High School seniors had a busy morning on Wednesday. Beginning with a bagel and fruit breakfast provided by the PSTO, the students made their way to the auditorium for senior recognition.

Principal Janet Ferraro welcomed the students and “a few teachers who wanted to watch.”

U.S. Marine Corps awards were given by Sgt. Nathan Bates. Ben Dottinger was given the Semper Fidelis award for his “musical excellence.” 

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Cole Patten and Bayleigh Takacs earned the Athletic Achievement award for exhibiting “self confidence, leadership on and off the field, serving as a role model and inspiration to others and a willingness to win. All qualities of a Marine.”

James Apostolico was given recognition for Scholastic Achievement. Though he was not there to receive the award, Bates said the award was given for a student who is a role model and has shown great improvement.

Before giving the last award, Bates called Hannah Newbold to the stage. “Hannah is the top performing female in the program,” Bates said giving her the American Patriot award. He told her classmates Newbold will be “heading to boot camp at Paris Island on Sunday making a commitment fewer than one percent of Americans make.”

Next on the program, Student Assistance Counselor Danielle Colte presented the National Merit Scholarship awards. Colts told the seniors these “three students placed among the top five percent of the more than 1.6 million students who took the PSAT in their junior year.” She called Soumya Duggirala to the stage for having earned National Merit Scholar recognition.

Colte continued, explaining those who take the exam about 16,000 or one percent of the test takers earn a score to qualify for Semifinalist. They are further qualified into a smaller group of Finalists.

“This year’s National Merit Finalists are Audrey Biss and Alexandra Poret,” Colte said. “Further, of the 1.6 million students in this group, only about 7500 are awarded scholarships. This year’s National Merit Scholarship winner is Alexandra Poret.” 

Sparta High School students who have maintained a grade-point average of 3.75 or greater for seven semesters are awarded President’s Academic Excellence* awards. Each of the guidance counselors presented their students as Tim Librizzi called them to the stage.

Counselor Susie Allison, Kim Knabb, Catherine Middleton, Jenna Valleau and Vice Principal Rory Fitzgerald shook each students’ hand, presenting them with a pin and certificate.

English teacher Dr. John Heir spoke next, presenting the Senior English award. “Zoe Canzoniero is a young woman of extraordinary ability. But a deep seated humility and an apparent inborn modesty prevents one from seeing such ability, at least at first … I could always rely on Zoe to offer up the keenest of insights and timeliest of observations regarding the literature presently understudy … It is for this very same humble but highly coveted scholarly grip that I’m proud to announce Zoe Canzoniero.” 

AP English teacher presented the Creative Writing award to Madelyn McEllen. “This student is not only one of the most talented creative writing students that I have ever had the pleasure of teaching but she also couples her talent with the maturity that adds depth and perspective to everything she writes.”

Sue Vnenchak presented the Mathematics Award to Erich Schwarzrock. “Garrett is a uniquely gifted math student. He has an insight into new material that is unparalleled … No problem is too difficult for him to take on. He is capable of big things in the math world and we are excited to see what he accomplishes.”

Margaret Incantaloupo presented Emerson Chin as the “deserving recipient of this year’s Computer Science award. Emerson is a true scholar, possessing intelligence and intellectual curiosity, enthusiasm, conscientiousness and a gracious and natural ability to share his knowledge.”

Chin has taken every computer science course offered at the school and has taught himself other programming languages and topics such as C++, Arduino C and neural networking. Chin will be studying at the University of California San Diego.

World Language Supervisor Michael Lauricella presented the students who have earned the Seal of Biliteracy. This year 24 students earned the certification by demonstrating a proficiency level of Intermediate Mid in a World Language and meeting state high school graduation in English at a proficient level. 

James Apostolico, Audrey Biss, Melanie Cardoso-Lozano, Emerson Chin, Sylvia Cochacki, Sofia Cook, Benamin Dottinger, Soumya Duggirala, Michael Flores, Kathryn Frontauria, Madara Gulbe, Nadir Hassan, Daniela Hernandez Carpio, Eileen Huhn, Brendan Huff, Nicole Kwon, Sarah Mathusek Cambray O’Brien, Robert Pegollo, Mia Pulido, Terence Ripon, Benjamin Schultz, Quinalan Van Es, John Williamson,

Physics teacher Dana Miller presented the Science award to Buddy Al-Aydi. “He is an outstanding student who is curious and kind and always wears a smile. He has doubled up on science every year since his sophomore year so he could take three of four AP science classes offered at Sparta High School … In the classroom he puts in the time and effort to gain a deeper understanding of how and why things happen.”

German teacher Christiane Wessels presented the German award to Audrey Biss. “She is very dedicated to the German program and has shown great leadership inside and outside of the classroom. She is considerate, responsible, helpful and always sets a great example to her peers. Audrey was a tremendous help as a student teacher in the Helen Morgan after school language program and as a peer tutor … She has an A+ for all marking periods in AP German 5.”

The French award was presented by Serge Wessels. “Victoria Heim is well deserving of the French award. She is a hard working young lady, always on top of her tasks in the classroom. She is humble, kind, dedicated, always interested in the various topics we address in AP French … She was president of the French Honor Society and the force behind the success of the French after school program at Helen Morgan elementary school … Over the years I witnessed how she gradually overcame her shyness to use the language.”

Sami Mathusek was nominated for the Spanish Language award by Amanda Sachenski. “Since the beginning of the year, Sami has been a model for other students continually maintain use of the language in class. Sami consistently seeks out opportunities to improve her Spanish whether it be starting a new program, reading poetry of famous poets or just listening to music in Spanish. She worked on a book of creative writing prompts to help improve her vocabulary. She scored higher on the Seal of Biliteracy test than some heritage and native speakers, due to her hard work in and out of the classroom.”

Eric Hood presented the Russian award to Steve Sullivan. “He is a dedicated student in level five and still working in the spring of his senior year … I’m glad he stayed the course. He is also a member in excellent standing of Slava. He is a joy to have in class.”

Lauricella presented the AP awards for History of Genocide, Government and Politics, European History and Psychology classes.

Olivia Agius earned the award for the AP History of Genocide, nominated by William Brennan. Brennan recognized the work Agius did preserving the living memory of a Holocaust survivor, on her own time. Through several interviews she compiled a biography for a MetroWest community organization. 

Andrew Greenberg was selected for the AP Government and Politics award. His teacher said, “Andrew is a civically minded and politically engaged student … He is a firm believer in the democratic processes of our political system and the use of such a system to benefit the lives of Americans.”

Zoe Canzoniero was chosen for the AP European History award. Her teacher said, “Zoe is a student that shows incredible commitment to her students and does so in a true workmanlike manner … She is a student who is driven to succeed ad is a model student.”

AP Psychology teacher Michael Wille nominated Sylvia Kloian. “Since the beginning of the year, Sylvia has been a model for her peers in class. She was consistently prepared for class, a contributor to class discussion and demonstrated an interest in psychology few could match.”

After the awards ceremony was completed the students climbed on to buses in the caps and gowns to visit the other schools on Sparta’s first Senior Walk. 

*Sparta High School 2018 Presidential Scholar Award Recipients:

Alexandra Poret, Audrey Biss, Bader Al-Aydi, Melissa Nolan, Erin Walsh, Eileen Huhn, Victoria Huhn, Paige Smith, Soumya Duggirala, Benjamin Dottinger, Hailey Mead, Zosia Canzoniero, Quinlan Van Es, Kayla Edwards, April Van Nieuwland, Matthew Guerra, Alexander Viola, Sophia Sandgran, Nicole Kwon, Emily Irwin, Alexander Hofgesand, Julia Liland, Lucille Mure, Blake Aschenbach, James Apostolico, Mia Pulido, Fiona Hynes, Kaylynn Pierce, John Williamson, Sara Vincelette, Sofia Cook, Christopher Murray, Daniel Baker, Steven Sullivan, Bridget Hilgendorff, Michael Flores, Terence Rippon, Shelby Kapp, Jamie Rennie, Sarah Mathusek, Emerson Chin, Thomas Ferrara, Erich Schwarzrock, Ryan Ryersen, Elias Frieling, Alexis Faria, Cambray O’Brien, Chloe Rippey, Madara Gulbe, Kathryn Frontauria, Brendan Huff, Carly Seeland, Madelyn McEllen, Anthony Esposito, Hunter Toburen, Tatiana Esteva-Ingram, Kevin Elzind, Nicole McGahey, Daleney Sarafin, Nadir Hassan, Gianna Macones, Robert Gennat, Nina Strowe, Anthony Pugliese, Victoria Montesano, Kate Nash, Makayla Angelucci, Talia Smith, Katharine Campion, Alex Roy, Taylor McConley, Emily Kosker, Kaitlyn Mead, Joseph Serovich, Hannah Fagersten, Connor Gormley, Sarah Vreeland, Alexander Pegher, Olivia Agius, Skylar Winberry, Julia Miller, Jared Chiariello, Justin Rhodes, Sylvia Sochacki, Justin Melick, Melanie Cardoso-Lozano, Robert Pegollo, Brandon Shepherd, Benjamin Schultz, Jillian Van Fleet, Erin Vreeland, Alyssa Schimpf, Andrew Neumann and Even Roque